Saturday, 27 January 2018

Strangers In Between, Jan 24, 2018 ***1/2

Written by Tommy Murphy, Midsumma Festival
At 45downstairs, until Feb 11, 2018 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: **1/2
Kate Herbert reviewed a preview performance with the permission of the producers. 
Review also published by Herald Sun in print on Fri Jan 26, 2018 & possibly later online (Lifestyle or Arts).
STRANGERS- Wil King (left) and Simon Burke_Pic credit is Sarah Walker-

Strangers In Between by Tommy Murphy is a funny and poignant ‘coming out’ story about Shane (Wil King), a naive youth who seeks a new life in King’s Cross after fleeing his family home in country Goulburn where being gay is unacceptable.

Shane is an innocent abroad in a messy, noisy, unpredictable city, and King effectively captures
the wide-eyed, childlike confusion and frantic nerviness of this lad who doesn’t even know how to wash his own clothes and can’t work the cash register at his job.

Although he is fearful of living in The Cross, with its population of prostitutes, bikies and drug dealers, Shane eventually finds support and solace in his new friends / mentors: an older gay man, Peter (Simon Burke), and the younger, street-savvy, Will (Guy Simon).

In Murphy’s 2006, award-winning script, the dialogue is fast moving and witty, with pithy, often mischievous observations about being a gay man living in The Cross.

The characters confront the blurred boundaries of their relationships, and struggle to understand whether their bond is based only on lust, or has evolved into friendship and a sense of responsibility and community.

Burke’s nuanced, detailed performance as Peter is a highlight, and he sympathetically embodies this older man who is lonely, generous, but needs love and friendship as much as the next person.

Simon successfully balances his two roles as the sassy, attractive Will, and Shane’s tough, homophobic, but evidently repentant brother, Ben.

Set in a space empty but for a bathtub and a silvery, fringed curtain that epitomises the glitz of King’s Cross, Daniel Lammin’s production focuses on characters and their intimate, but slippery, uncertain relationships.

Occasionally, Lammin’s staging places actors in awkward positions in the space, forcing some audience members to crane their necks to view the action.

For the sensitive viewer, Strangers In Between contains graphic, confronting sexual references, but it is also a warm, engaging depiction of a young man’s introduction into the gay community.

By Kate Herbert
STRANGERS- Wil King (left) and Simon Burke_Pic credit is Sarah Walker-

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